10 Bizarre Wildlife Stories From 2018

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Americans love their animals. Even the exotic ones. Perhaps that explains why one U.S. airline banned passengers from bringing spiders aboard in 2018, along with other “emotional support” animals such as goats. We’re still trying to figure out, however, why a man would carry an alligator into a beer store. Oh wait, it happened in Florida. Never mind. Here’s a look at those bizarre tales and other strange animal news from 2018.

 

10. Enormous Steer Becomes Social Media Sensation

© News Central Queensland

Perhaps you saw this item trending on Twitter and didn’t bother to check it out, thinking, “How big can that steer really be?” The answer? Enormous. “Knickers,” from a herd in Western Australia, stands over 6 feet tall and weighs almost 3,100 pounds. That enormous size actually saved Knickers from the slaughterhouse; his owner told Australian news outlet PerthNow.au that the cow is too big to fit in a facility, “So I think it will just live happily ever after.” Analysts who looked at the photo pointed out that, while Knickers is huge, she looks especially large in the photo because the 7-year-old animal is standing with a bunch of 1-year-old steers.

 

9. Pee-Loving Mountain Goats Airlifted Out of National Park

© Sean Munson

Mountain goats who have developed a craving for human urine are posing problems in Washington’s Olympic National Park. According to Popular Mechanics, the goats, which are not native to the park, like the salt and minerals they find in urine left behind by hikers and campers. The goats paw and dig at the ground, causing environmental issues. And there are other concerns; a mountain goat killed a hiker in 2010. The solution: Rangers have been tagging and then airlifting goats to sites in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

 

8. Woman, Doctors Remove 14 Worms From Her Eye

©

The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene shared a disturbing tale that is not for the squeamish. Abby Beckley, a 28-year-old Oregon resident, felt something wasn’t right, began rubbing at her eye, and pulled out a small worm. Over the next three weeks, Beckley and doctors removed 14 worms from her eye. The CDC identified the worms as Thelazia gulosa, a parasite commonly found in cow eyeballs. Officials believe Beckley was infected when a fly landed on her eye as she traveled through ranching country in Southern Oregon. Luckily, Beckley’s eye made a full recovery, but as CDC official Richard Bradbury aptly noted, “It’s just really gross and very psychologically disturbing to see multiple small worms crawling across the surface of your eye.”

 

7. Shark Stolen From Aquarium in Baby Stroller

© Ed Bierman

A dark side of human nature is that some people like to steal. Even sharks aren’t safe. A 38-year-old man faces felony charges after allegedly stealing a horn shark from the San Antonio Aquarium. Video showed someone pushing the creature out of the aquarium in a baby stroller. Luckily, police were able to identify the suspect and two accomplices, and found the 3-foot shark thriving in a large aquarium in the man’s home. But just imagine some bystander seeing the man outside the aquarium and innocently asking, “Did baby enjoy the aquarium?” and peeking in the stroller.

 

6. Bystanders Watch Daredevil Raccoon Scale Tall Building

Raccoons are known to enjoy climbing trees, but tall buildings? Not so much. Bystanders on the boardwalk in Ocean City, N.J., gathered to watch as a raccoon scaled about nine stories up an oceanfront building. Without warning, it appeared to jump. Amazingly, after hitting the ground the animal jumped up and ran away.

 

5. Frozen Iguanas Fall From Trees, Frighten Residents

© Jim Culp

A rare winter storm earlier this year in Florida caused iguanas, which are cold-blooded creatures, to become sluggish and even incapacitated as temperatures dropped. Combine that with the fact iguanas like to lounge in trees, and the result was a wave of unconscious iguanas falling to Earth, perplexing local residents. The Sun-Sentinel noted it’s happened before, including during a cold snap in 2010, when “Neighborhoods resounded with the thud of iguanas dropping from trees onto patios and pool decks.”

 

4. Man Carries Alligator into Beer Store

Just a quick glance at the headline and most people are thinking, “Must have happened in Florida.” And it did. According to CBS News, customers in the store laughed at the crazy sight, and one person wanted a picture with the alligator. Since it’s illegal to capture or possess an alligator in Florida, state wildlife officials planned to investigate.

 

3. Alligator Fights Python on a Golf Course … Yes, in Florida

© Carolyn Maxim

Burmese pythons have become one of the most problematic invasive species in the U.S., with thousands spread across Florida. That has led to scenes like the one witnessed in Naples, Fla., when someone spotted a python and alligator in a death match on a golf course. The alligator had the snake’s head in its mouth.

For a state that has actually been paying hunters bounties to kill pythons, the prospect of Florida’s other species fighting back is heartening. Brian Norris, public information officer with the Florida Wildlife Commission, told Fox News, “We are encouraged by the prospect of a native Florida alligator consuming an invasive Burmese python.”

 

2. Cockroaches Inspire Robot’s Design … Really

© Tom Libby, Kaushik Jayaram and Pauline Jennings. Courtesy of PolyPEDAL Lab, UC Berkeley

It’s an old adage that cockroaches are so indestructible, they’ll survive a nuclear holocaust. And as we all know, robots will one day be our masters in a future ripped straight out of the Terminator film series. Somehow, those visions of a dystopian future make this story all the more disturbing. Researchers at UC Berkeley have built a small robot with a design based on the cockroach. Researchers marvel at how cockroaches can travel 50 body lengths per second, which would be equivalent to a human running almost 200 mph. They’re also impressed by the insect’s ability to move from vertical to horizontal surfaces at high speeds.

Hence, the researchers designed the CRAM (Compressible Robot with Articulated Mechanisms). The ultimate goal: Employing the cockroach’s unique design to help create the “next generation of running, climbing and flying robots.” In other words, just the type of robots that might one day be hunting humans for their computer masters. On a serious note, the robots could have many practical real-world uses. Imagine sending a swarm of cockroach-bots into earthquake rubble to check for survivors.

 

1. Airline Bans Spiders, Other Bizarre Emotional Support Animals

© Tim Scott

Most people are accustomed to seeing dogs serving as emotional support animals for the disabled. But apparently, so many people had been taking advantage of service animal guidelines, American Airlines had to clarify its policy on the matter. The airline noted that beginning July 1 it would ban a number of creatures from the passenger cabin, including spiders, amphibians, ferrets, goats, waterfowl, and animals with tusks, horns or hooves. Pity the poor traveler with arachnophobia who ever ended up sitting beside an emotional support tarantula on a flight.

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